2/401368 Keith H. Hasler, "D" Company 2RAR

We have all experienced the hardships, the horror, the terror andmisery that war of any description is full of, but do we very often think of themany good times, the friendships that we forged, and do we ever think of themany funny and amusing things that stay forever imprinted in our memories?Here are just a few that come to mind, overriding the many bad thoughts thatin the past have filled my every day. It has been said that humour liesbasically in the misfortune of others, and to some extent this is very true, butin many cases much of the humour to come out of war, hes in the ability tolaugh at ourselves. Let me begin by telling of one such incident.

This story could be called, "the first victim of chemical warfare"....

It took place sometime in May or June of 1953 during my unit (2nd Btn Royal AustralianRegiment) involvement in the Samichon Valley on the feature known as hill159. I was part of"D" Company 2RAR, and along with others, we had the taskof patrolling the valley to our front each and most nights as part of either astand-by patrol, or a fighter patrol. One of our section members was an Aussieguy named Max Conway, who, like myself, was a reinforcement from Japanand new to the terrain and conditions of front-line life. I have previouslyspoken of Max in an earlier story and how I came within a whisker of takinghim for the enemy with what could have been disastrous results, but Idigress. On one such night, warm and still, we sat near the valley floor as astand-by patrol as a back-up to a fighter patrol out front. I hoped, as I guessall of my colleagues hoped, that the night would be uneventful. With theapproach of dawn on this warm night, our only contact with the enemy was tobe in the form of hundreds of mosquitoes. These pesky critters of Koreanorigin were most aggressive and to some of us, not even clothing was aprotection. One such soul was Max, because he was subject to numerousstings even through his exposed shirt not covered by our "flack jacket".

As dawn was approaching, we received the command to pull back slowly andsilently to the relative safety of our Company lines. All the time, Max hadbeen "slapping" sometimes "squashing" as he so eloquently put it, "BloodyMozzies!" Following breakfast, hastily taken, Max immediately strippednaked and started to apply some lotion he had obtained from the RAP(Regimental Aid Post). He scratched and swore all day, vowing that this wouldnot happen again.

After the evening meal, we were again briefed for our patrol duties, which thistime was to be a fighter patrol. Max immediately went into "preparationmode" and called out for the DDT which was usually kept close to CompanyHeadquarters. Locating the five gallon drum (for memory), Max stripped offand liberally began plastering his body with the DDT, both arms, his legs,whatever he could reach of his back, his torso, all the time muttering, "Thosebloody mozzies wont get me tonight!" Unfortunately, Max had not taken intoaccount any effect this chemical may or may not have had on his more tender parts,and sure enough, after just a few seconds of this liberal splashing, Maxrealised that his very private parts were burning. He yelled and yelled, all thetime gaining more and more attention. In desperation, he grabbed hispannikin from which he had just a few minutes earlier eaten his eveningmeal, and filling it with water, proceeded to lower his previously mentionedprivate parts, in and out of the water. It will not be hard to understand thelaughter that this comical action brought upon the many who had beenalerted to his cries of pain.

In due course, we went on our patrol but it proved to be uneventful. Many ofus put forward theories as to why and they varied from, "The Chinese heardMax yelling and became too frightened to venture out!" or "The Chinesesimply could not stand the thought of inflicting any more pain on poor Maxand so decided to cancel any patrols for the immediate future!" or " If thoseAustralians can do this to themselves, what might they do to us?"For a long time, Max laughed along with his mates over this little episode!

Me with captured burp gunKeith H. Hasler
New South Wales

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